Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Important Update: Vaping And Its Dangers

Each year the American Cancer Society sponsors the Great American Smokeout. The third Wednesday of November smokers across the nation are encouraged to quit smoking.  The good news is our Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data showed a decline in teen use of tobacco products.  Better yet, YRBS data showed a decrease in all risky behaviors.  A more recent trend, commonly referred to as vaping, is a significant cause for concern.  Schools and parents across the Commonwealth and nation are grappling with this alarming trend, and we are no exception.  

With the rise in popularity of e-cigarettes and vaporizers, along with the prevalence of vape shops popping up on seemingly every corner, we wanted to share some critical information. The purpose of this correspondence is to inform and educate, solicit help, provide resources, and outline school consequences for students who are caught vaping, or found in possession of vape products on school grounds or a school-related function.  

As part of a principal's network, last week I received correspondence from more than 30 principals in Massachusetts all expressing concern with the increase in vaping amongst their student body.  I fear parents are not aware of this growth, or they are being led to believe the risks are negligible.  We discussed the health effects and school consequences with students during Advisory today.  You can see a portion of the presentation here.

School Consequences
We have witnessed an uptick in activity at CCHS.  This is not a matter we are taking lightly. In accordance with our handbook, students in possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia (including vapes) will be suspended from school. Further, this is a violation of the MIAA chemical health rules and will result in loss of eligibility for a portion of the season. 

The recent increase prompted us to delve deeper into the topic of vaping, and our research leaves me nervous as a principal and father.  

Vape Products 

Vaping is the act of inhaling a vapor produced by an electronic vaporizer or e-cigarette. Pictured above are but a few examples of vapes.  The vapor can contain nicotine along with substances far worse. The liquids that are vaporized come in many different flavors; some emitting a fruit like odor, and students are led to believe vape juice is not harmful.  

Eerily similar to cigarette advertising generations ago, vapes are often marketed as innocuous and/or a healthier alternative to smoking. Not surprisingly, adolescents are a target audience.  Vapes can be used quickly and often without detection since little residual odor results from vaping, and they are usually small and easily disguised.

Vape juice is not regulated by the FDA, and therefore we often don’t know what is in the juice, nor do we know the long-term effects of inhaling these chemicals, particularly on the developing lungs and brains of teenagers.

Vaporizers/e-cigarettes (“vape pens”) come in all different shapes. Some common styles we see look like a thick pen, a stylus for an iPad, a flash drive, or a small flask with a round chimney coming off the top.  The devices are tiny and can easily be hidden on a person or blend in with standard backpack items.  Like cigarettes, stores cannot sell vaping items to people under the age of 18.  In Concord, the minimum age to purchase vaping materials is 21, and vaping is prohibited in any public indoor space in Concord.  However, students report buying the devices online or from older siblings or friends. 

Vape Device

Nicotine, Diacetyl, Marijuana & Other Vape Products
There is a considerable concern for a product called diacetyl that can found in vape products.  According to the American Lung Association Website,  "over a decade ago, workers in a microwave popcorn factory were sickened by breathing in diacetyl—the buttery-flavored chemical in foods like popcorn, caramel and dairy products. While this flavoring may be tasty, it was linked to deaths and hundreds of cases of bronchiolitis obliterans, a serious and irreversible lung disease. As a result, the major popcorn manufacturers removed diacetyl from their products, but some people are still being exposed to diacetyl - not through food flavorings as a worksite hazard, but through e-cigarette vapor."

Nicotine and marijuana can be vaped with little fear of detection unless caught in the act. I asked one of our school nurses, Kari-Ann DeCapua, to research other drugs that can be vaped.  The results are horrifying. One site lists the following drugs:

Bath salts
Liquid THC 
Hash oil
Synthetic marijuana (spice or K2)
Psychedelics (DMT)

A contact at a college police department informed us that any drug dissolvable in glycerin can be vaped. Drugs that can be dissolved in glycerin include; ecstasy, molly (both MDA and MDMA), meth, and other amphetamines, heroin, codeine, Percocet, Ritalin, Xanax, acid, DMT, mushrooms, or even just muscle relaxers or over-the-counter medications.  

Our goal is to partner with parents to help support our students in making positive and healthy decisions.  We encourage you to have a conversation with your child about this topic. 

Below I have included some resources and pictures for your review.  Please scroll to the bottom of the page to read some common misconceptions associated with vaping and e-cigarettes provided by the American Lung Association.  For more information, please visit their website.

Surgeon General Parent Tip Sheet

National Institute on Drug Abuse 

2016 Surgeon General's Report: E-Cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults

American Lung Association Information

MYTH: E-cigarettes can help smokers quit.

FACT: The FDA hasn't found any e-cigarette to be safe and effective in helping smokers quit.

Instead of quitting, many e-cigarette users are continuing to use e-cigarettes while still using conventional cigarettes. In 2015, 59 percent of the people who recently used e-cigarettes also currently smoked conventional cigarettes. The U.S. Surgeon General has found that even smoking a few cigarettes a day is dangerous to your health.
When smokers are ready to quit, they should talk with their doctors about using one of the seven FDA-approved medications proven to be safe and effective in helping smokers quit. They can also contact the American Lung Association to find a program that is right for them.

MYTH: E-cigarettes aren't marketed to kids.

FACT: E-cigarette use among middle and high school students more than tripled from 2013 to 2015.

With aggressive industry tactics such as cartoon characters and candy flavors including bubble gum, fruit loops, chocolate and strawberry, it's no surprise studies show a dramatic increase in kids using e-cigarettes. For the first time ever, teens are smoking e-cigarettes more than traditional cigarettes.

MYTH: There's no secondhand emissions from e-cigarettes.

FACT: E-cigarettes expose others to secondhand emissions.

The aerosol (vapor) emitted by e-cigarettes and exhaled by users contains carcinogens, such as formaldehyde, according to early studies. Little is known about these emissions or the potential harm they can cause.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

A Veterans Day Thank You, The Least I can do!

On Saturday we pause to thank our nation's Veterans.  Regardless of what side of the aisle you align yourself with politically, regardless of your position on a given conflict or war, irrespective of your position on a president's foreign policy, it is essential, in my opinion, that we as a country support the men and women of the armed forces.  

Some men and women enlist in the hope of a better life; some, like Pat Tilman, enlist out of a sense of duty and patriotism. Pat Tilman, a name all Americans should know and celebrate, enlisted in 2002 after witnessing the horrors of 9/11.  That is not what makes Pat Tillman’s story unique.  

He decided to put his professional football career on hold to join the U.S. military; he walked away from a successful football career with the Arizona Cardinals, and a 3.6 million dollar contract, to join the U.S. Army. "Sports embodied many of the qualities I deem meaningful," he said in 2002. "However, these last few years, and especially after recent events, I've come to appreciate just how shallow and insignificant my role is.” I dare say you can count on one hand the number of individuals who would do what he did.   In a fateful twist of irony, Pat Tilman was killed by friendly fire.  

The military is not about the individual, however.  It is about team and unity. Nothing exemplifies the armed forces belief that all Veterans should be respected equally more than the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is perpetually guarded by sentinels from the 4th Battalion of the 3rd United States Infantry Regiment known by its nickname, "The Old Guard."

Although the Tomb of the Unknowns holds the remains of only a few individuals, the monument honors the many unidentified soldiers who gave their lives in armed conflict. The first 24-hour posted guard began at midnight, July 2, 1937. The Tomb of the Unknowns has been guarded continuously, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, since that time.  

Not only is it perpetually guarded, but the soldiers never break routine even after Arlington National Cemetary closes and nobody is watching.  The soldier "walking the mat" does not wear rank insignia, so as not to outrank the Unknowns, whatever their ranks may have been. 

Watching a soldier “Walk the mat” until relieved of duty at the Changing of the Guard should be required viewing for all Americans.  It is beautiful.  It embodies the qualities instilled in the military: commitment, leadership, discipline, organization, teamwork, and sacrifice. 

To date, I have traced my roots as far back as my grandparents.  I am proud to say that both my grandfathers, my uncle, and my father all served in the Army.  

One grandfather served in the Pacific during WWII.  The other parachuted into France the night before the D-Day invasion.  I have often wondered how he felt boarding the plane. Surrounded by scared men to his left and right, what was going through his mind as he shuffled to the door, jumped from the plan, and floated to the ground? He was wounded in the war but survived. My uncle was shot in the jungles of Vietnam.  Also wounded but survived. 

I was too young to thank my grandfathers for their service, and I never told my uncle that I was grateful and proud.  Opportunities missed, so thank you, Henry, thank you, Tom, thank you, David, thank you, James.  I draw strength from their service, as whatever the perceived hardship I am enduring at any given time pales in comparison. 

It is not just about the men and women in uniform, however. It is also about the sacrifice of military families along with the millions of veterans who live humbly among us.  You pass them at the mall.  You pass them at the grocery store.   They are living in your town, and you pass future veterans in our halls. 

I encourage you to find a Veterans Day ceremony on Saturday.  Sit quietly and listen, and when the service is over walk up to a Veteran and say thank you. It is the least we can do. 

With Gratitude,

Michael J. Mastrullo

Monday, November 6, 2017

Ethan Young, CC Weather Balloon, Denmark Exchange, Rivers Stewardship, Harlem Lacrosse & More

Denmark Exchange
By Greg Coan
The 2017-18 Denmark Exchange has kicked off to a fantastic start as our guests from Denmark spent a week visiting CCHS and Boston. The group consisted of 19 students, 2 teachers and the principal from our sister school in Slagelse, Denmark.  We had 15 wonderful host families who supported and transported our guests during the week's activities. Our 15 CCHS students will travel to Denmark in April.

Highlights include:

• Columbus Day staff hike up Mt. Wachusett 

• A crossover with the Japan Exchange as the Goar family hosted a Thanksgiving dinner with Anna, a Danish exchange student and their family friends, the McNally's and Runa, their Japanese exchange student and two of her friends. 

• A lot of pumpkin carving 

• Visits to Boston and Cambridge

• Visits to Walden Pond 

• Visits to Concord Museum and Minuteman Park

• Class shadowing in school

• A goodbye bonfire and hayrides at Verrill Farm 

Weather Balloon
On behalf of the students and staff at CCHS, I want to thank the Concord Education Fund for making the balloon project possible.  I have included a synopsis of the experience from CCHS senior, Charles Peachey.  It was written last week, and I have an update.  The balloon was located in Carlisle a mere 4 miles from there calculations.  Well done, all.

By Charles Peachey

To start our momentous journey we arrived at the high school at 6 am in order to load up the bus on time.  As soon as the last piece of gear was on the bus we started our two hours and ten-minute journey out to our launch site of Berkshire Waldorf High School and Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School out in Great Barrington, MA.

Upon arrival, we were greeted with a crowd of around 20 students parents and teachers from the surrounding area who all were very interested in our balloon launch. From selecting our launch site to giving us coffee the locals really made us feel welcome. While we got set up some members of our Concord Carlisle Weather Services educated the crowd on the ins and outs of the weather balloon and surrounding meteorological factors attached to that balloon. Everyone there was so interested always asking questions and trying to find out more. By the end of that day, they could have built their own balloon.

The launch procedures them self couldn't have gone much better. Everyone knew exactly what their role was in the assembly of the balloon. That level of organization gave us a very smooth launch and assembly procedure that helped ease any tensions from surrounding onlookers. From what we could see all experiments by the end of our preparations were working just like they should be, so we stepped back and started filling the balloon. Meticulously watching as the latex weather balloon expanded and got bigger the excitement grew more and more. With people surrounding this balloon with their cameras and phones and live streams, we couldn't have made for a better launch. With the little wind we had at the time it was a very smooth release and very exciting last ascent.

As for the recovery that didn't go as smoothly. Due to two different mechanical failures with our GPS devices, we lost contact with the balloon. Frantically we called the company in charge of our satellite coverage asking if there was anything we could do to fix this. Unfortunately, there was nothing we could do, so the got hard to work on a solution and so did we. The entire two hours ten-minute bus ride home all 13 passengers did not stop thinking about a solution. We are still trying to come up with what went wrong, but we are actively working with ways to recover our balloon. If there is any information as to where the balloon is felt free to contact or

Even in the failure in recovery our second year of the weather balloon launch went very well. We had a great time putting together the balloon and educating our local community. There is also one more launch scheduled for November 16th after school at the upper fields that we are working towards now. We would also like to thank the entire school for coming out to witness our tethered launch during advisory.

Harlem Lacrosse
By Maureen Dibble & Louis Salemy
On behalf of Harlem Lacrosse, we would like to extend our sincerest thanks to the Concord and Carlisle communities for participating in the sixth annual Harlem Lacrosse weekend. This year, 25 families from Concord and Carlisle opened their homes to 90 of our students from Harlem.  Weekend activities included a lacrosse clinic on Saturday morning followed by a tour of the Old North Bridge (Concord Museum), the Old Manse, and the Robbins House.

The weekend culminated in a lacrosse tournament at CCHS on Sunday that drew 500 participants.  Special thanks goes to the 50 CCHS boys and girls lacrosse players who volunteered and helped coach the 30 participating teams.  These high schoolers excelled in their roles as mentors and coaches and displayed strong leadership skills.  In a brief time frame, they were able to mold their players comprised of youth from different geographies, backgrounds, and lacrosse abilities into cohesive teams.

Concord and Carlisle can take pride that Harlem Lacrosse was founded by 2004 CCHS graduate and lacrosse player Simon Cataldo.  Simon learned the value of public education, diversity, and empathy growing up in Concord and learning in its public schools.  Those values that are embodied by our community are now intrinsic to our local partnership with Harlem Lacrosse.

From its founding in 2011 with only 10 players in one city, Harlem Lacrosse now serves 1,000 students and is in five cities.  We are especially proud that Harlem Lacrosse now has a presence in Boston and is serving 150 students at three public schools in Mattapan and Dorchester.

Rivers Stewardship
By Michael Goodwin
Each Wednesday, Rivers and Revolutions students head into the field to engage in their stewardship projects. This work allows students in the program to leverage their learning in the service of other individuals and organizations. Twelve of our current students have been working with Kim Rivers’ fifth-grade class at Willard Elementary School, providing interdisciplinary experiential instruction in and out of the classroom.

This past week, we hosted the Willard students here at the high school, offering a hands-on lesson surrounding the poem “Where Many Rivers Meet” by David Whyte. Our high school students were more than impressed by the depth of insight offered by these younger students, and collectively the entire group came to a greater understanding of the relationship of the hydrologic cycle and the trajectory of our own lives. At the conclusion of the lesson, the fifth graders offered a wide range of feedback to our students, speaking in large part to their appreciation of the ways in which we all worked together to explore the text. Speaking to why the day worked well for her, fifth-grader Beverly Henry-Hanson said: “I liked not getting looked down on. I like to be treated as an equal.”

This kind of cross-district collaboration provides a powerful learning opportunity for all involved, and we are looking forward to five more full days together. Willard Stewards include: Olivia Maione, Johnny Hudson, Frankairis Rosario, Kelly Leonard, Jeff Cohen, Ben Walton, Phoebe Hall, Elsa Simonton, CJ Israel, Haley Kohler
Emma Sofia Wipper, Maddy Gorewitz

Other stewardship projects this semester include: Pathways life skills curriculum, METCO 50th anniversary tribute, invasive species removal, and the design of an outdoor classroom space at CCHS.

All the water below me came from above.
All the clouds living in the mountains
gave it to the rivers
who gave it to the sea, which was their dying.
And so I float on cloud become water,
central sea surrounded by white mountains,
the water salt, once fresh,
clouds fall and stream rush, tree root and tide bank
leading to the rivers' mouths
and the mouths of the rivers sing into the sea,
the stories buried in the mountains
give out into the sea
and the sea remembers
and sings back

Ethan Young Pictured on Left

Ethan Young
Pathways said farewell to one of the most hard-working students last week.  Ethan Young came to Concord-Carlisle High School after attending the Riverview School until age 18.  In his time since returning to CCHS, Ethan gained skills in academic as well as vocational pursuits.  Ethan is an avid fan of weather, and thoroughly enjoyed Earth Science with Mr. Pavlik.  Ethan produced a movie for that class about one of his favorite topics, tornados!

Ethan has been a long-time volunteer at Cooperative Elder Services, Inc.  He also volunteered with other Pathways students the Goodnow Library, Drumlin Farm, Acton Food Pantry, and Discovery Museum.  In recent weeks, Ethan had a lot of fun at the new Pathways vocational location, Buddy Dog of Sudbury.  Ethan has been an independent traveler over the last few years, using public transportation to get to and from school and work.

The celebration of Ethan's success here at CCHS had a Christmas theme, and it was the most wonderful time of the year!  The crowd enjoyed various video tributes to Ethan and wished Ethan well.  We look forward to seeing Ethan at future movie nights and hearing more about his success in the future!  Special thanks to all the members of our Pathways program who helped Ethan succeed.  Good luck, Ethan.

This year marked the 11th anniversary of the Lois Wells Memorial Kicks for Cancer. Lois is the mother of our very own Steve Wells.

As part of the fundraiser, jerseys are sold to the public; 100% of the proceeds go to Dana Farber to support women's cancer research. We are very proud to announce that our 2017 KFC donation total to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute will be $62,592.30.

2017 - $$62,592.30
2016 - $60,021.00
2015 - $46,940.00
2014 - $44,307.65
2013 - $33,409.01
2012 - $28,989.96
2011 - $28,273.27
2010 - $17,051.00
2009 - $10,124.25
2008 - $11,032.40
2007 - $8,000.00


Alumni Spotlight (Connor Lofdahl- Trombone, Class of 2016)
By David Gresko

Check out what Connor has been up to the University of North Texas, one of the top jazz programs in the country.

Connor is now a sophomore at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas studying jazz trombone – and loving every minute of it! He currently plays in the prestigious Two O’Clock Lab Band, which is the second highest level of the nine big bands in the Jazz Studies Division. He is also lead trombone in the Latin Jazz Lab Band and recently joined the Denton-based Latin jazz and salsa band Los Wedos.

 Previously, he played lead in the Four and Three O’Clock Lab Bands as well as the contemporary jazz fusion ensemble The Zebras and a classical trombone quartet. He has had several gigs as a sub (sometimes even for money!) both on and off campus, most recently in the Rebel Alliance Jazz Ensemble, including an upcoming recording session with trumpeter Bobby Shew – but the most exciting gig so far was when he was flown out to Santa Fe to play with the Georgia Bridgwater Orchestra for George W. Bush’s goddaughter's wedding! 

Raising a Student-Athlete Presentation
Monday, November 6th at 7 PM
Location:  Concord Carlisle High School Auditorium

Please consider attending “Raising a Student-Athlete: Sports Parenting in the 21st Century”, presented by Adam H. Naylor, EdD, CC-AASP, this coming Monday evening at CCHS (offered for free and sponsored by the Center for Parents and Teachers).

Dr. Naylor will lead this discussion focused on supporting children's health and their ability to thrive throughout their sporting experiences. Consideration will be given to the parent’s and coach's role in developing confident and resilient young athletes and how to manage the stress of increasingly complicated sporting decisions which families face. All Parents and Coaches are encouraged to attend.  

Please learn more about this program and sign up at or at:

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Principal's Blog: MCAS Results

Within the next week, students who sat for the MCAS test last spring will be receiving MCAS scores in the mail. As I noted in my September 29th blog post, ranking and comparing schools is a fickle matter with more variables to consider than standardized test scores. Nevertheless, one widely adopted barometer by which we are judged is standardized test scores. When analyzing CCHS purely on standardized test scores it is easy to see we are near the top in all categories. A testament to the students, staff, and CCHS community.

One example that illuminates the fickle matter of test scores is the Level 2 status of CCHS. It is not just performance that comes into account. Participation rates remain part of the calculus, and despite the outstanding scores highlighted below, our participation rates in one category were a smidgen below the 95% requirement. In fact, if 1 student, yes 1 more student, simply sat for the test and did not fill in a single question, CCHS would be a Level 1 school. I will allow you to draw your own conclusions on that calculus.

As I have said before, we are acutely aware that reputations are more easily lost than won, and we recognize ahead lay countless hours of work to improve, but there is no doubt that CCHS is a high achieving academic institution that excels in many areas, and it is a fantastic place to come to school and work each and every day. Not measured in any ranking system is perhaps our greatest strength, and that is a strong school culture built on a foundation of meaningful relationships. 

Please read on to see highlights of our most recent scores and to view a letter sent home to all MCAS test takers.

ELA Scores

Match Scores

Science Scores

Dear Parents/Guardians,

Within the next week, you will be receiving MCAS scores in the mail.  The “next-generation MCAS” tests that were given in English language arts and mathematics to students in grades 3-8 in spring 2017. Please note there are changes to this test and the scores are not comparable to the scores on the PARCC tests that have been administered for the last few years in Concord 3 - 8. (Please note that regular MCAS, called “legacy MCAS,” were administered in here and in the rest of the state in grade 5 science, grade 8 science, and all high school MCAS. Therefore, the scores on these tests are comparable to those in other years.)

On the next-generation MCAS, the four scoring categories are Exceeding Expectations, Meeting Expectations, Partially Meeting Expectations, and Not Meeting Expectations. The new categories emphasize readiness for higher-level work at the next grade level. As you review your child’s scores, please note the items below from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education:

  • The next-generation MCAS establishes high expectations to better reflect whether students are on track for the next grade level and ultimately for college and a career.
  • 2017 is the baseline year - the first year of a new assessment - and we expect that over time, more students will score Meeting Expectations or above. (When the original MCAS debuted in 1998, relatively few students scored Proficient, but that changed as students and teachers adjusted to the new expectations.)
  • Students in grades 3-8 do not face any negative consequences as a result of their scores.
  • Students in 10th grade will not begin taking the next generation MCAS until 2019, so they are not affected by any of these changes.
  • The next-generation MCAS is a new test with a different approach to assessing student performance in grades 3-8, and this year's results cannot be compared to last year's.
  • MCAS results are only one measure of your child's growth and achievement. Your child's teacher can also talk to you more broadly about your child's academic growth and about his or her social and emotional development.
  • In some subjects and grades, fewer students scored Meeting or Exceeding Expectations this year than scored Proficient or Advanced in previous years. This does NOT mean that students learned less; it reflects the fact that the next-generation MCAS measures more rigorous standards in a different way.

Please access this fact sheet to learn more about the next-generation MCAS and your child's score. If you have questions or concerns about your child's results, we encourage you to talk with his or her teacher or principal.

Overall, we are pleased with the MCAS scores of students in  Concord Public Schools and Concord Carlisle High School. We will continue to use the general data and individual student data to improve instruction for your child.


Michael J. Mastrullo Kristen Herbert
Principal Director of Teaching and Learning
Concord Carlisle High School Concord Public Schools & CCHS